6 unpretentious cereals for container compositions
The fashion for decorative cereals in landscape design could not but migrate from gardens to balconies and loggias. In the USA and Europe, annuals in containers are increasingly placed in companies with decorative herbs. A few years ago, I also decided to add cereals to the compositions on the balcony and to the flower beds in my garden. What decorative cereals are easy to grow seedlings? Which of them are able to winter well in the middle lane, and who is destined for the fate of an annual? Will cereals bloom in the year of sowing, and with what colors can they be successfully combined? In this article I will talk about six cereals that I successfully use in balcony compositions and in the flower garden.
For me, growing cereals in compositions with summers is not just a fad or blind copying of garden magazines. In the company of discreet herbs, annual flowers begin to look very different - more solid and stylish. Cereals set the composition structure, add air, movement and sound to landings at the slightest breeze.
In addition, as it turned out, growing most cereals from seeds is no more complicated than preparing seedlings of petunias or other unpretentious annuals.
1. The finest feather grass
The most common variety of this type of feather grass Pony Tails (Pony tails) The name of the cultivar in translation from English means “ponytail”, which, possibly, indicates the similarity of the mound of the thinnest spikelets of the plant with horse hair.
A feather grass grown from seeds usually blooms only in the 2nd – 3rd year, so I was never able to personally see the flowering of this cereal due to its low frost resistance. However, the thick curtains of narrow linear leaves have no less resemblance to the ponytail and look very attractive.
The finest feather reaches the declared height of 40 centimeters only in the flowering state, therefore in an annual culture it is a short, compact cereal suitable for small containers.
Pony Tails feather grass seeds germinate very easily during the week without cold stratification and other additional procedures. The seedling growth rate is average. Therefore, in order to get fluffy curtains by the beginning of May, it is better to sow the seeds indoors in February-March.
On my balcony I liked the most to combine this cereal with petunia. Both plants are very photophilous and responsive to feeding. In addition, such a duet looked original and made it possible to perceive the usual annual in a completely different form.
Unfortunately, this type of feather grass belongs to the 6th zone of frost resistance, therefore it is not able to tolerate frosts below -20 degrees. Attempts to keep containers with a feather grass in a cool basement at +10 degrees were unsuccessful. Wintering in the ground with good shelter also ended in failure. However, I grow this cereal annually in an annual crop to add airy greens to catchy annual flowers.
Also on sale is an unusual feather grass “Fireworks” (in the original - a hybrid “Sirocco”), whose foliage changes color from green to shades of copper and pink with decreasing temperature. Often, seed producers are a little tricky, designating a hybrid as a perennial, without specifying its degree of winter hardiness. However, this cultivar also belongs to zone 6, which means that the feather grass will not withstand temperatures below -20 ... -23 degrees, and is only grown as an annual crop in the middle lane.
2. Sedge (Carex comans)
Hybrid Amazon mist sedge, watery - one of the smallest cereals (not higher than 20 centimeters), which can be successfully used to decorate the edges of the cache-pot and hanging baskets, since it has characteristic slightly drooping sickle-curved leaves.
The textural narrow foliage of a hairy sedge is light green in color, it turns out to be rather hard to the touch, which is why from afar (out of ignorance) plants can be mistaken for artificial grass.
Particularly spectacular sedge Amazon mist happens in windy weather, due to the fact that the back side of the foliage is silver. It creates a characteristic flickering effect in the wind.
The name of this cereal is heard by everyone who spent their summers in the countryside as a child, and it seems that the hybrid variety should also be stable like the famous weed. But, alas, the sedge is hairy - a thermophilic variety of the usual grass native to New Zealand and does not tolerate lowering temperatures below -23 degrees.
Sedge blooms at the end of summer with inconspicuous spikelets, however, flowering, in any case, occurs only in the second year when grown in the southern regions. At a young age, sedge grown from seeds grows rather slowly, so it is better to sow in the middle or end of winter.
Germination of seeds takes about a week, at which time it is better to keep the containers on a well-lit window sill or under a daylight lamp. After planting in a permanent place, this original ornamental cereal needs minimal maintenance if placed in a sunny place and regular watering is provided. In some cases, individual brown leaves have to be removed from the curtains, but a similar problem is extremely rare.
Sedge Amazon mist grows with a small, neat bump, so it’s best for partners to choose low compact annuals with medium-sized flowers. I liked combining it with hybrid nemesia, bacopa, mimulus, viola, caliberhoa, dwarf snapdragon varieties, etc.
Sedge sedge has other equally interesting varieties. For example, a hybrid Red rooster attractive red-bronze color of the foliage. A cult Bronco differs in texture curtains of bronze-brown color. Both hybrids are also not very hardy and are grown in the middle lane as annuals.
3. Pennisetum (cirrus bristle), or "fountain grass"
Pennisetum surprises with fluffy inflorescences, brushes, the structural form of a bush and elegant foliage. On sale you can find the seeds of several types of this cereal, but for cultivation in the middle lane is best suited pennissum foxtail (Pennisetum alopecuroide) and east pennisetum (Pennisetum orientale).
These varieties have a fairly high winter hardiness (they withstand a negative temperature of about -29 degrees), so they can be cultivated in a perennial culture and can be wintered well in flower gardens under light shelter.
Growing a pennisetum from seeds is not difficult. If you plan to use it as a perennial garden plant, then the seeds can be sown directly in soil in May. But to decorate the balconies, I prefer to grow a pennisetum early - through seedlings.
The seeds of the cereal are quite large, but still it is better not to sprinkle them with earth, but gently press them into the substrate with a toothpick. Shoots usually do not keep themselves waiting and appear in 7-10 days.
If you sow a pennisetum at the end of winter, you can see flowering already in the year of sowing. Of course, in the first year it will not be so plentiful and will begin only in mid-September. But, nevertheless, the original bristly "brushes" will be a wonderful decoration of autumn container compositions.
Pennisetum is a fairly high cereal, so it can be used as a central accent of the frame composition. Marigolds, dwarf zinnias, stunted dahlias, petunias and other bushy annuals with large expressive flowers will harmoniously look at the foot of the decorative grass.
In autumn, it is better to transplant the bushes into the open ground. In order for the wintering of the pennisetum in the garden to be successful, it is recommended that the stems be bundled, spud with peat and covered with spruce branches.
Picturesque penisetum gray, also known as ornamental, or African millet, with purple leaves and monumental burgundy cob inflorescences is also easy to grow from seeds. However, you should know that this is one of the most thermophilic species of pennisetum, and the plant will delight the grower only one season.
4. Breeze, or shake
Breeze is average (briza media) Is a common meadow plant of temperate climate. This pretty grass is widely known by the people as "cuckoo tears." But among flower growers the most widespread big shake (briza maxima), which is most often used to compose original winter bouquets.
Breeze inflorescences resemble small oblate teardrop-shaped earrings that sway easily and shake at the slightest breeze (hence the name “shake”). The curtains of this cereal look rather loose, and simple linear leaves do not have much decorative value, so I prefer to plant a breeze so that its foliage is masked by bushy plants.
Since breeze bushes do not grow well in width, for the greatest decorative effect they must be planted in a group, placing seedlings as close to each other as possible.
"Cuckoo tears" can find their place in compositions with petunia, snapdragon, heliotrope, verbena and other bright annuals with a height of 20 to 40 centimeters.
Big breeze is by its nature an annual. However, this small flaw is offset by incredibly fast growth and early flowering. The annual shake can be sown in a permanent place in early May. Shoots appear quickly, and seedlings do not require special care. Flowering begins in July-August.
I would also like to note an equally interesting variety of long-term middle breezes Russels. The original cereal, in addition to pretty inflorescences, is notable for its striped silver-white foliage. The plant is unpretentious and cold-resistant, develops better in the sun, although it tolerates light partial shade. In height, this quagmire reaches 60 centimeters along with peduncles and it is better to plant it in garden flower beds, where the breeze can winter without any shelters. Since the Russels shake is of hybrid origin, it is better to propagate the grass by dividing the bush.
5. Azhika snow white
A rare original cereal is not currently widely used in gardens or on balconies, and this is not due to external features of the plant or difficulties in growing the crop. The fact is that many gardeners simply do not know about the existence of such an ornamental plant, otherwise they would certainly want to plant a cuticle in a flower garden, as it once happened to me. After all, this amazing cereal has many advantages.
Firstly, plants form evergreen bumps that retain foliage all year. Secondly, grass with a rather exotic appearance is absolutely winter-hardy in the middle lane. And thirdly, икаzhika is one of the few cereals that will feel great in partial shade.
An original feature of snow-white swirls is the presence on the edge of the leaf blade of a fluffy plaque that looks like frost or light snow. At the beginning of summer, neat bushes are decorated with plentiful panicle-shaped openwork inflorescences, consisting of small grayish-white flowers, also resembling fluffy snow flakes.
Since икаzhika is a close relative of sedge, it is also quite hygrophilous and feels good in partial shade with sufficient moisture, for example, on the shore of a reservoir. However, plants grow well and with moderate watering in sufficient sun, in combination with a variety of perennials or annual flowers in flower beds and flower beds.
Buds, as a rule, have a decent height and diameter of the bush (45-60 cm). And for balcony boxes or small gardens, a hybrid dwarf variety is suitable Luzula lucius from 15 to 30 cm tall. In container compositions, the original cereal will make harmonious combinations with balsam, evergreen begonia, mimulus and other stunted annuals for bright or partial shade.
A hybrid can be propagated not only by dividing the bush, but also easily grown from seeds. You can sow a horn before winter, or grow seedlings indoors, sowing in March. Small seeds are usually sold in granules, which are conveniently slightly pressed into the substrate with a wet toothpick.
There are no special problems in growing seedlings. Subsequently, in the flower beds of the ovum, it gives abundant dense self-seeding, which can interfere with the growth of mother plants, therefore it is recommended to remove excess seedlings. In snowless winters, evergreen foliage of cereals can be damaged, but in the spring the burn can quickly recover.
6. Haretail, or Lagurus
Charming "hare tails" are difficult to confuse with any other representative of cereals. The main advantage of the plant is precisely its unusual thick inflorescences of egg-shaped 3-4 cm long, blooming on long thin stems. At the beginning of flowering, spikelets are pinkish-gray, and subsequently change color to pure white. Florists often use such original inflorescences for winter bouquets.
Most often, lagurus is grown exclusively as a dried flower, but the fashion for natural flower beds made it possible to see a full-fledged participant in mixborders and container compositions in the hare tail. The height of plants is 30-50 centimeters, while the bushes practically do not grow in width, therefore, to achieve the greatest effect in the flower beds, the hare is planted in large massifs, placing plants in the group at a distance of 10-15 centimeters from each other.
By its nature, lagurus is a fast-growing annual, so seeds can be sown directly into the ground in early May. But I prefer to sow them for seedlings indoors in late March-early April, so that the charming "rabbit tails" appeared in July.
Seed germination takes 10-12 days, seedlings do not require special care. The hare prefers sunny places, poor soils, and moderate watering, and if necessary tolerates drought well.
In container flower beds, the hare will become a vertical accent of the composition. If you place it in the center of the container, surrounded by bright annual flowers (petunia, evergreen begonia, stunted snapdragon, marigolds, etc.), branched bushes will hide the unattractive foliage of the lagurus, and bright inflorescences form an expressive contrast with fluffy light spikelets.